Owning your own business is a dream-come-true for many people. Finally, you’re not taking orders for ‘the man’. Actually, you’re the one doing the ordering and delegating. However, businesses can also be tricky, and more often than not, you realize you’re spending a lot of time and effort into making sure the boat stays afloat. What you need to realize, though, is that you’re not the captain of an empty ship, and you have people you are responsible for. When it comes to your employees, keeping them happy and productive should be on the top of your list of responsibilities. Don’t know how to do that? Don’t sweat it. We have you covered.
1. Create the Right Environment and culture
Business owners sometimes forget that relationships are important and that a happy employee means a productive one. When you’re focused on client satisfaction and profit, it can be common to forget about the people who help create the magic. Create a healthy environment in your company built on strong relationships, trust, and camaraderie, where everyone is important. Be open to ideas, allow your employees to explore new avenues, and really make them feel at home. When they take ownership of the business, you will see wonders!
2. Clear-cut requirements
Often enough, employees find it hard to know exactly what it is they need to do. Don’t be vague about your job requirements and descriptions. Be on point, be clear, and make sure everyone knows exactly what they should be doing and how they can do it better. An employee who knows what’s required of them will do it better, without being bogged down with vagueness and confusion.
3. Provide benefits
Medical insurance, maternity leave, stock options, oh my! Yes, even employees want to know they’re being taken care of, and when you provide them with benefits that make it worthwhile for them to give you their all, they’ll do it gladly. Remember, sometimes employees would opt for lower pay if the benefits are right, and at the end of the day, taking care of those who make your business flourish should be your number one priority.
4. Be candid, be transparent
Often enough, people tend to avoid confrontation. The downside is that frustration grows when things aren’t discussed properly. Be candid with your employees, give them proper feedback, and let them know if what they’re doing is right or wrong. Also, try to keep the general company goals and objectives clear. You will achieve nothing by being secretive, and your employees will respect and feel more in-tune with the job when they know they’re being kept in the loop.
5. Professional Development and Growth
No one wants to remain stagnant in their lives. Our minds are like muscles, and they need to be constantly working if you want your employees to reach higher levels of Maslow’s Pyramid. Invest in professional development and show your employees that you care about their growth. Provide them with career paths that show them exactly where they can be in the next five, ten, or twenty years. Show them you care, and they’ll invest that effort right back with you.
6. Automate Processes
One very important way to keep your employees productive is to automate things that don’t have to be done manually. This will take a bit of research on your part, but the world is full of resources and software to help you. One example of great automation opportunities is your payroll. The developers at Zenefits understand the importance of keeping a business compliant with a platform that automatically calculates everything for you. With a payroll platform that integrates seamlessly with your other platforms, like accounting, you’ll be riding the automation high to define success.
7. Breaks and overtime
No one works forever, and expecting your employees to give their 100% from 9 to 5 with no rest in the middle is ridiculous. Make sure your workflow allows for breaks where employees can recharge, get off their desks and move around, or even go out to get some sun and much needed Vitamin D (by the way, that decreases depression, so it’s a win for you, too). And if you’re keeping them past working hours, make sure you make it worth their while. No employee wants to work more hours than they’ve signed up for and not feel appreciated for the effort.
8. Close up shop
One of the worst things you can do is make your employees feel like they’re always on-call. When the office hours are done, then they’re done. Try to encourage them not to take work at home and get everything done in the office. Don’t start sending out emails after hours, and make sure your managers aren’t calling people at 10PM to ask about something. Give them their evenings to do as they see, please, especially if you want them to come back in the morning fresh and ready to take on the world.
9. Give credit where credit is due
Feedback is important, as is praise. This should be a mindset that you have as well as your managers. When employees do exceptionally well, let them know you’ve noticed and that you care. An employee of the month, an in-house ‘praise’ circular, or a get-together at the end of the month to dish out the congratulations. Hey, even a company BBQ and Christmas parties are a great way to show your appreciation. If the team’s awesome, let them know it. If an employee is exceptional, make sure they know you know.
10. The little stuff
Nothing ruins productivity and morale more than the little stuff that pops up every now and then that can be avoided. Bad logistics, faulty internet, electrical malfunctions that don’t take care of, and bathrooms that are not cleaned regularly. Even something as small as running out of paper for the copy machine can be frustrating. With the right planning and proper floor operations, these can all be managed and avoided. In the end: Happy employees!
No one ever said that running a business is easy. There are so many variables you have to take into account that just thinking about them makes you feel like you’re constantly putting out fires. But, with the right team behind you, you’ll quickly realize that your business can flourish with little effort from you. Treat your employees like family, show them you care, and watch them turn into gladiators who will do anything to make your business shine!